European Space Agency approves record budget | News | DW | 28.11.2019
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European Space Agency approves record budget

The ESA is to invest €14.4 billion ($15.8 billion) in space exploration including a moon mission up to 2022. Germany is now the largest contributor to the agency's biggest ever budget.

European space exploration is getting its biggest financial boost in 25 years. At a conference in Seville, Spain, the 22 member states of the European Space Agency (ESA) on Thursday agreed on a €14.4 billion ($15.8 billion) budget for the next five years.

"It's a real surprise, it's more than I proposed, I'm very happy," ESA Director-General Jan Wörner said.

Germany now contributes the lion's share of the budget with €3.3 billion, which amounts to 22.9%. France follows with 18.5% before Italy with 15.9%.

What will the money be used for?

  • Gateway, the first space station to orbit the moon, allowing European astronauts to go to the moon for the first time.
  • To develop "the first fully flexible satellite systems to be integrated with 5G networks"
  • The Hera mission, in connection with NASA, to protect the earth from asteroids
  • The first gravitational wave detector in space, LISA
  • The black-hole mission Athena, designed to "enable fundamental advances in our understanding of the basic physics of the Universe."
  • The "Mars Sample Return" mission, also in cooperation with NASA
  • Space Rider, "ESA's new reusable spaceship."
    Orion module being removed from an assembly work station

    ESA member states contribute to NASA's Artemis moon mission

New agenda

In addition to these projects the ESA agreed on new focuses:

  • Strengthening ESA's leading position in earth observation to monitor the effects of climate change
  • Space safety has been approved as a new pillar aimed at keeping space operational
  • ESA's commitment to the International Space Station (ISS) was reaffirmed
  • Transitioning to the next generation of launchers, like Ariane-6 and the smaller Vega-C

Moon mission and SMEs

Referring to Germany's contribution, the government's coordinator of aerospace policy, Thomas Jarzombek stressed that "we have demonstrated that we are a reliable partner of ESA."

He said Germany will be able to strengthen the role of small-and medium-sized companies in space exploration and "we managed to help enable the European moon mission with a contribution of €55 million."

ESA is closely watching the US space agency NASA's Artemis mission, which aims to send astronauts to the moon by 2024. European states are so far merely providing a module for the Orion spacecraft, but ESA chief Wörner on Thursday assured member states that "we will send Europeans to the moon."

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